Primary Sources 50 stories from 50 years of the Archives

Alfred Derham, medical officer, Changi

Alfred Plumley Derham, physician and soldier, survived Gallipoli in 1915 and re-enlisted in 1940 following inter-war service as a paediatrician at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital and as a lieutenant colonel in the Australian Army Medical Corps.

In 1940 he was appointed colonel in the AIF and made assistant director of medical services to the 8th Division, training medical units in Malaya. He was in Singapore on 15 February 1942, the day the Allies surrendered to the Japanese.

Derham and his son Tom were in the Senior Officers' Party transferred from Changi on 16 August 1942 to Formosa. In 1944 they were transferred to Manchuria via Japan. From September 1942 to late 1943, Derham kept patient medical history cards for this group on the back of cigarette packets, recording the dramatic deterioration of the prisoners' health.

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